I’m a big proponent of selling unwanted used items for extra cash. Heck, I’m even a proponent of flipping items, new or used, for extra cash as well. But how do you know how much you can sell a used item for? I’m about to show you an easy way to determine the used market value of any item you’re looking to sell.
Our Obsession with Stuff
Unfortunately, with the rapid pace of changing technology, fast fashion, and overall consumer taste with “out with the old, in with the new”, there are a lot of things that get changed out or thrown out far before their useful lifespan is over. This leads to a lot of waste filling up our landfills.
One solution is to donate to organizations such as Goodwill or local shelters. Another is to just give away things to family and friends. However, what if you could make some extra money selling the things you were going to get rid of anyway?
Selling as a Side Hustle
I’ve been selling things on eBay since 2001. I’ve also been using Craigslist to sell locally for the longest time as well. Maybe I’ve just had a lucky streak, but I have yet to have a bad transaction experience on Craigslist so far. I’ve never been stood up, never had a deal fall through, never been scammed, and never had a bad encounter. I’ll admit there are a lot of sketch stories you hear about buying and selling on Craigslist, but I think as long as your careful and take precautions, it is still a great marketplace.
Nowadays there are plenty of other apps that allow you to buy and sell things locally, such as Letgo, OfferUp, and Facebook marketplace. I’ve dabbled a little into these apps, particularly for buying items, but for selling, I still primarily stick to eBay and Craigslist.
Craigslist vs. eBay
Most of the times, I prefer to sell on Craigslist over eBay. Mainly because I don’t have to worry about shipping costs and don’t have to pay extra fees to eBay.
eBay typically takes 10% off your selling price and Paypal will take another ~3%, totally 13% off your selling price. On top of that, you need to ship the item as well. Depending on the actual selling price of the item and how much it costs to ship, you could be out 15-20% out from what your item sold for on eBay. With Craigslist, there are no costs involved so you can keep all the profits.
So overall, the pros and cons of Craigslist are
- No fees; keep all the profit
- No shipping fees and logistics
- Smaller market audience
- No protections in place for a bad transaction
And the pros and cons of eBay are
- Massive marketplace and audience
- Protections in place against scams and bad transactions
- Shipping logistics
My Selling Strategy
So how do I determine what I will sell on Craigslist and what I will sell on eBay? Generally, I will sell popular brand name items (like consumer electronics) on Craigslist that I know are probably somewhat in-demand, just because I know there is probably a market for it. Also larger items, like furniture, I would sell on Craigslist as well.
Since eBay is not localized like Craigslist, its reach and marketplace is a lot bigger. Therefore, I’ll usually sell less popular items on eBay because the chance of someone looking on eBay will be a lot higher than someone looking for it on Craigslist.
Sometimes I will try to sell an item on Craigslist first, and if it doesn’t sell, then try selling it on eBay. Other times I will have a listing for the same item on both Craigslist and eBay at the same time and just wait and see which one gets interest first.
How to Determine the Market Value of an Item
So if Craigslist is my preferred selling platform, how do I usually determine what price to list an item for? Personally, I like to have an item sell relatively soon, within a week or two. I could list an item for a higher price, but it might only get nibbles of interest and get nowhere in a month.
I could also just search on Craigslist and see what other people selling the same item are listing it for. But this doesn’t really give a good indication if what they’re asking for is a fair price or not. They could all be overpricing the item.
Fortunately, eBay makes it fairly simple to determine the market value of a new or used item.
Today we’re going to pretend we’re looking to sell a used Apple Watch Series 3 Aluminum model in 42mm case size. We can start out by just going to eBay and typing in our search term “Apple Watch Series 3”.
For popular well-known items, you can niche down your search using the options in the left sidebar. I’d say we would select “42mm” for case size, “Apple Watch Series 3” for series, and “Aluminum” for case material. This will give us the most accurate listings for what we’re after.
The last thing we’re going to filter for is the condition of the item. Since we’re looking to sell our used Apple Watch on Craigslist, we’ll be selecting “used” to make sure all the listings we see are only for used items.
From here, near the bottom of the left sidebar, we want to select “sold items” under Show only. (“Completed items” will automatically be selected as well when “sold items” is selected)
Now, all the listings that are shown are Apple Watches that have sold recently that are identical to the one we’re interested in selling. At this point, I would just browse through the listings and take note of what the recent selling prices have been for this item. Keep in mind, there may be some outliers, such as people selling very damaged items. But if you browse enough listings, you can usually identify a trend in the selling prices.
For this example, I’m making the call that $200 is an average sale price for our watch. But does that mean this is what we will list it at on Craigslist? Well, this is where your own judgement need to be made.
Remember before when I talked about eBay fees? That will be taken off the average selling price of $200, plus you need to add the cost of shipping. That can bring down your final profit down to near $160 if you were to sell on eBay.
Therefore, I’d be happy if I could get $180 for the watch selling on Craigslist. But I would probably still list it around $200, and allow some negotiation room for the buyer. That’s another tip I would offer for selling on Craigslist: always expect to negotiate on price, so take that into consideration when setting your initial price.
Tips for Selling on Craigslist
There are a couple of tips I can offer for safe and successful selling on Craigslist.
- Set up a separate Google Voice number you can use to text and take calls from interested buyers. I’m a little paranoid about “interested buyers” just wanting to get my phone number to spam or sell, which is why I use Google Voice. Also, when creating your listing, don’t initially list your phone number, unless you like to be constantly interrupted with texts and calls. Only offer it after you’ve exchanged a few emails with serious buyers.
- Meet in a public place on your terms. Sometimes you can’t avoid this when you’re selling large items like furniture or TVs, but for the most part, avoid letting buyers come to your house. While it may be convenient for you, it’s not worth giving up your home address. I choose to meet at a McDonald’s parking lot because it’s convenient for me. Don’t choose a large parking lot like Walmart because it’ll be hard to find the buyer. Also, right before you meet, specify the make and color of your car and what the buyer will be in. This will make it easier to identify each other in the parking lot if it is busier.
- Cash is best on Craigslist. Paypal transactions can be reversed and checks are hard to verify. For large purchases, like a car, cashier’s checks are acceptable.
My Final Take
Selling your used stuff for extra cash is a great way to supplement your income. My two favorite places to sell are Craigslist and eBay. I generally try to sell on Craigslist first due to the lack of fees and shipping logistics. However, the buying market is definitely larger when selling on eBay.
eBay offers an easy way to determine how to price your item by looking at what other similar items have sold for recently. This can give you a guide on how to price your item. Take this information to try to sell your item on Craigslist first. If you don’t get any serious buyers there, then list your item on eBay.
This only serves as an introduction to selling your unwanted used stuff, but let me know if you found this helpful and want to know more. Let me know in the comments if you have experience selling things and what your preferred platforms are. Also, if you have any other selling tips, feel free to share them with everyone!